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Sodhi eager to be a man for all conditions

Ish Sodhi opened the door for New Zealand when he had Faf du Plessis lbw AFP

There may have been more than a hint of immediacy bias - the perception that immediate emotions are more intense than older ones - when AB de Villiers said that the spinning pitch in Hamilton provided the toughest turning conditions he had faced, but it was certainly an atypical New Zealand surface for the opening one-day international.

While de Villiers' opposite number, Kane Williamson, was a little more subdued in his comments he agreed that there had been a difficult amount of turn as the match progressed; it was the same surface used for the Australia ODI and also a result of the time the pitch had spent covered in the lead-up to the match. It made for a rare occasion where spin was at the forefront in New Zealand. Both captains included two frontline spinners with Williamson saying it was a "no-brainer."

For New Zealand, that second man was legspinner Ish Sodhi. Especially when you are not a regular in the side, it is easier said than done to be greeted by a pitch that a spinner would dream of and not be overwhelmed by the expectation. Although New Zealand lost a tight encounter, Sodhi produced a neat display - 7-0-36-1 - and was pleased to have handled the pressure "relatively well" in his first ODI since the India tour last October.

Until Sunday, Sodhi's international season had been limited to two T20s against Bangladesh in Mount Maunganui - which brought the small matter of five wickets. Otherwise it has been Mitchell Santner, his Northern Districts team-mate, who has been handed the spin duties, even though a brief stint at the Big Bash for Adelaide Strikers produced the astonishing figures of 6 for 11 against Sydney Thunder.

"Just to be back playing for New Zealand is a big deal for me. It was awesome. It's been quite a tough few months. Learning my game and how I want to take it forward. I've had some reasonable success on the domestic circuit and got to go to the Big Bash which gave me some confidence. I'm just stoked I could come in and do a decent job, gutted about the result but it means a lot to be back and hopefully I can play some more over the next little while."

Northern Districts' main ground is Seddon Park, so while the amount of turn for the ODI was beyond the norm it is no surprise that the region produces spinners: they were also Daniel Vettori's team. Sodhi acknowledged that the spin was significant and tough to play but said it was not unheard of at the ground.

There are, though, few other venues around New Zealand that encourage turn in the same way, which makes twin-spin attacks at international level a rare sight. Still it doesn't rest well with everyone that Sodhi does not figure more regularly. Ahead of the ODI there was a discussion on a sports radio programme about New Zealand's side and a suggestion Sodhi should not be so readily ignored, believing too much emphasis was put on Santner's batting.

Sodhi understands the situation but is determined to develop into a bowler who can thrive in all conditions. It is often suggested the small grounds of New Zealand do not help, but he believes he has shown he can cope. He had a lean Super Smash campaign with four wickets in nine matches, but took 14 in six matches during the Ford Trophy and overall both his List A and T20 numbers are eye-catching.

"The majority of the wickets in New Zealand aren't going to [spin so much]," he said. "It's about finding the balance and finding wickets and grounds which are big enough to play two spinners. It's generally a seam-friendly country and so I've just got to keep working hard and when I get my opportunity like here I need to stand up and take it.

"I've played at Seddon Park my whole life and played most of my cricket on the T20 circuit in New Zealand which is on small grounds so I've done it a lot, but it's more pitch conditions that aren't overly conducive to spin. It's just finding the right conditions and if I continue to bowl well hopefully at some point I can be the guy they go to on any surface on any ground."

Sodhi acknowledged the vast difference between domestic and international cricket but said he had become much better at not putting undue pressure on himself when his New Zealand opportunities came along.

"I cope with it better now. I've done it a few times now, so it's getting easier each time but it's more that I focus on just doing my job whenever I get the chance. Playing domestic cricket and playing international cricket is completely different; I reminded myself of that in the field, after 20 minutes I was actually blowing - it's a lot more intense than what I've been used to for the last little while. It was a nice reminder."

He'll hope the next reminder comes sooner rather than later.